Victoria’s Great Ocean Road
It is a spectacular drive along our world-famous coastal road, taking in some fabulous beaches and wonderful forest areas with sweet little towns offering wonderful accommodation options along the way. The 12 Apostles, rainforest walks, waterfalls, historic lighthouses and koalas in the wild all add up to make this one of the best drives in Australia.
Most of the ocean road follows the coast and winds around cliffs, sometimes climbing high with distant views along the coast and out to sea, other times dipping down to sea level where travellers can feel the thunder of the waves and explore the many beaches and rock pools. A number of viewpoints along the way provide visitors with time to breathe in the salty air and read historical markers. The road then goes inland through rainforest and farmland before climbing over the top of the Otway Ranges and back down to the coast.
The return trip from Melbourne is more than 500 km’s and best explored over two days or more if time allows. It is possible to do the trip in one day of course and many visitors do it this way, either self-driving their own car, a rental vehicle or by tour bus. Cycling and motorbike touring are also popular options. Camping and caravan parks are easy to find all along the coast, some are free camping sites, though, most vary between resort style parks to basic bush camping spots.
- Melbourne to Torquay = 104.9 km / 65 miles
- Torquay to Port Campbell = 187 km / 116 miles (the main section of the ocean road)
- Port Campbell to Melbourne, shortest route back along the inland road = 229.6 km / 142 miles
TOTAL = 521.5 km / 324 miles
A Brief History
The Ocean Road is a memorial to those who fought and lost their lives in World War I. Built by returned servicemen, it was a huge engineering task that ended many years of isolation for the township of Lorne and surrounding communities.
Plans first began in the 1880s and became a reality towards the end of the First World War. The proposal was made that funds be provided for the employment of returned soldiers building roads in underpopulated regions. The plan was described as the ‘South Coast Road’ following the coast around Cape Otway and ending near Warrnambool.
It was former Geelong mayor, Alderman Howard Hitchcock, who finally began the project. He envisioned its worth as a tourist attraction, proclaiming it “better for its ocean, mountain, river and fern gully scenery than the Riviera in France, the San Francisco Road and Bulli Pass in New South Wales”.
The Lorne Visitor Centre has an extensive display on the history as well as images of the building of the Great Ocean Road.
Where does the Ocean Road begin and end? Where are the 12 Apostles? Where can koalas be seen in the wild? What is a glow worm and where can they be found? Find the answers to some frequently asked questions here.